"You Don't Scare Us" reads this Russian-language Soviet poster, vintage 1984. It shows a burly Soviet worker, with hammer and sickle on his hardhat, getting his job done, while a wormy looking American politician threatens to push "the button" while military jets labelled "US" scramble in the background. "Pushing the button" was of course shorthand for launching an apocalyptic nuclear attack against the Soviet Union.
The occasion for this poster was no doubt the disturbing "joke" played by the senile U.S. president at the time. On August 11, 1984, cold warrior Ronald Reagan made this quip during a soundcheck before his weekly radio address: "My fellow Americans I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that would outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." The audio was subsequently leaked. While it had no apparent effect on his landslide reelection in a few short months, some of us were shocked.
In time-honored tradition, President Reagan joked about committing nuclear genocide. Some of us didn't find it so funny. The poster below (I had a copy) was soon popular on the left. This was the climactic height of the cold war, an era of renewed nuclear terror when the threat of apocalypse seized the popular imagination. Check out the films "Threads" (viewable on Youtube!) and "The Day After" (Youtube link) for a taste of what it was like to live with that terror.